wikiHow to Exercise in Water

Three Methods:Swimming for ExerciseWater Aerobic ExerciseWater Walking/Jogging for Exercise

Water exercise is a fun and healthy way to get cardiovascular and strength-training exercise. The water's buoyancy and resistance allow you to exercise in a no-impact environment, putting less stress on your joints. A water exercise routine a few times a week is often recommended to people with chronic back pain, arthritis, diabetes, obesity and other conditions. You also have a number of options. You can swim outside or exercise in a pool. You can also join a water exercise class or workout alone. This article will tell you how to exercise in water.

Method 1
Swimming for Exercise

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    Consult your doctor to see if swimming, or other water exercise, is appropriate for your current condition. The doctor can advise you on swimming strokes that you should avoid, or equipment that might be useful.
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    Take swimming lessons, if you don't remember how to do strokes, or if you have never swum before. This is also a great idea for anyone who is unsure of their form when swimming. Improper form can lead to imbalanced muscles, back and neck pain and uneven strokes.
    • Look for classes at a local recreational center, swim club or gym. You can either choose to take private lessons or a join large class. It may only take a few sessions to get you swimming properly.
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    Get a form-fitting swimsuit, swimming goggles and a swim cap. If you are prone to ear infections, you may also want to get ear plugs. Buy aquatic shoes, if you plan to swim in rivers or oceans.
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    Begin with the breaststroke. Lie face down in the water, take a breath and submerge your chest and head while your arms stretch forward under the water. Simultaneously kick your feet apart, and then bend them as your arms move in a circle, until they are together under your chest and you raise your head to breathe.
    • Ask a swim instructor to teach you the stroke if you do not know it already. This is a great warm up because it is a slow, but relatively easy stroke to accomplish.
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    Continue with the front crawl or freestyle stroke, considered the fastest in competitive swimming. During this stroke, you flutter kick your feet while your arms extend 1 at a time in front of your body and sweep under you. Go at your own pace, and alternate turning your neck to breathe after 2 to 10 strokes, depending upon your lung capacity.
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    Try the backstroke, in order to work the opposing muscles that you just worked. Lie on your back and flutter kick your feet. Extend 1 arm from beside your leg, running parallel to your body, and place it in the water behind your head.
    • To complete the stroke, push off with your arm as it completes a circle around your thigh and raise your opposite arm. Keep an eye on the flags above your head, so you know when you are coming close to the wall. This can avoid potential injury caused by running your arms or head into the side of the pool.
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    Ask an instructor about other strokes, such as the sidestroke or the butterfly stroke. The sidestroke allows you to keep your head above water, and is favored by many older people or arthritis sufferers. Try to work opposing muscles as you go through your routine, spending time on both your right and left sides and front and back strokes.
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    Start by swimming 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and then work up to a longer exercise routine. Ask your pool how many laps it takes to complete a mile, and aim to swim a half or whole mile. Also, experiment with how many strokes you can do without taking a breath, which will increase your lung capacity.

Method 2
Water Aerobic Exercise

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    Start water aerobics in a class setting. After you have memorized a whole routine, you may be able to do it on your own; however, there is a plethora of moves that are used during a water aerobics class. Inform your instructor of any disabilities, so that the exercises can be modified if need be.
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    Begin by only submerging yourself up to your waist or chest in water. After you have the water aerobic moves down, you can go into deeper water. Find the place in the pool or lake where you can comfortably perform your exercises, according to your height.
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    Do a warm up that includes 5 to 10 minutes of stationary jogging, marching (high knees), jumping from 1 foot (0.3 m) to the other or doing jumping jacks. This cardiovascular exercise speeds up your heart and breathing for the rest of the routine.
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    Do arm circles and leg circles. Next do squats, lunges, side, front and back leg kicks and sideways walking to strengthen and tone your muscles. Add water weights or resistance gloves to increase the resistance of the water and increase the intensity of the exercise.
    • Many gym exercises can be modified and used in the pool. For example, you can do bicep curls, arm flies and balancing exercises in the pool.
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    Workout for 30 minutes to an hour. Do a stretching routine against the side of the pool for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure to hit your major muscle groups, including the calves, quads, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and neck.

Method 3
Water Walking/Jogging for Exercise

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    Begin by walking in water that is less than chest deep. Try to maintain your normal stride, and notice the resistance that the water provides. Moderate walking on land can burn about 130 calories per half hour, whereas walking in the water, against resistance, burns approximately 260 calories.
    • Make sure you are walking heel to toe, rather than just on your toes. The buoyancy of the water can make it harder to complete a normal stride. You may need to focus on foot placement when you first begin.
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    Start marching laps. Flex your stomach and try to bring your thighs parallel to the water. This is a great exercise for the abdominal muscles as well as the thighs.
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    Walk sideways for several laps. Turn sideways in the water and move your legs directly sideways against the resistance of the water. After several laps, turn around and lead with the opposite foot.
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    Do forward lunges. Step forward with 1 leg and bend your knee to a 90 degree angle. Keep your hands at your sides, straighten your forward leg and then lunge forward with the opposite leg.
    • Try to do side lunges. When you are walking sideways, bend your leading knee to a 90 degree angle, rise and repeat. Make sure to do the same number of lunges on the opposite side.
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    Put on a water belt and cinch it at your waist before you move to deeper water. You can perform these same water walking motions, or you can choose to water jog. Water jogging mimics jogging on land, but the belt keeps your chest above the water's surface.
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    Concentrate on placing your heel down and then your toe. Try alternating jogging at slow speeds, high speed and doing high knees for a few minutes each. Although you will not go very far, very fast, you can burn about 100 more calories every half hour water jogging than you would jogging on land.
    • You can alternate your water jogging routine by kicking your feet in a bicycle motion. Keep your feet flat and move them in a circular motion, as if you were pedaling a bicycle. You can also stay still and move your feet up and down as quickly as possible, as if you were running in place.


  • Always wear waterproof sunscreen if you are swimming or doing water aerobics in an outdoor pool or body of water. You may want to wear a hat and sunglasses, if you are doing water aerobics in the sun for an extended period of time.
  • Make your water workouts more fun by inviting friends to join you. Play water polo or basketball instead of swimming. When played vigorously, these are also great water-based cardiovascular exercises.


  • Don't try to do too much water exercise at once. Although the motions may feel easier, because they have a lower impact on your joints, the resistance provided by the water can lead to muscle soreness. Increase the time you do your water activity slowly and always stretch after exercising.

Things You'll Need

  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Pool shoes or flip flops
  • Swim cap
  • Swimming goggles
  • Aquatic shoes
  • Swimming belt
  • Water weights
  • Resistance gloves
  • Sunscreen

Article Info

Categories: Cardio Exercises